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Some dog owners choose to use a harness rather than a collar on their dog to make them more comfortable or to reduce the chance that they’ll slip off the leash. There are multiple types of harnesses to choose from, and they can each be tricky to put on. This step-by-step guide will give you all the information you need.

Standard Dog Harness

Different types of harnesses need to be put on in different ways. Let’s start with the steps for putting on a standard harness. A standard harness has one loop around the ribs, one loop around the neck, and a D-ring on the dog’s back to clip the leash to.

1. Stand, sit, or squat behind your dog and put them in a standing or sitting position. It is best to do this when your dog is calm.

2. Slip the harness over your dog’s head. Make sure the harness is positioned so the D-ring is on your dog’s back. The wider loop (the one with the buckle) goes on first, and the narrower loop goes on second.

3. Slip your dog’s leg through the first leg hole of the harness. The leg should now be in between the loop that goes around the ribs and the loop that goes around the neck.

4. Buckle the harness, so that your dog’s other leg is in the proper leg hole. If the buckle doesn’t reach to allow you to close it, you need to loosen the strap.

5. Once the harness is buckled, adjust it so it fits properly. You should be able to slip two fingers underneath any strap. Try to pull the harness over your dog’s head to make sure that it is secure.

English Cocker Spaniel meeting a man outdoors.
©Bradley -

Step-In Dog Harness

Now, let’s look at the steps for putting on a step-in harness. The difference between a standard harness and a step-in harness is that the former forms rectangles around your dog’s legs, while the latter forms triangles.

1. Lay the harness flat on the ground, so that you can clearly see the two triangles. The buckles should be on top of the D-rings.

2. Hold your dog from behind and place their front feet in the two triangles.

3. Pick up the two ends of the harness and clip them together on your dog’s back.

4. Adjust the harness accordingly. Try to pull it over your dog’s head to make sure it’s secure.

Front Clip Dog Harness

Last, let’s look at how to put on a front-clip harness. A front-clip harness has the leash clip in the front over the dog’s chest and is designed to discourage pulling. Some front-clip harnesses are shaped just like the standard or the step-in harness. If this is the case, follow the steps for those harnesses.

However, some front-clip harnesses have a different design, with one loop that goes around the ribs and a single strap that goes across the chest. There is no divider in between the dog’s legs. If this is the type of harness you have, follow the steps below.

1. Kneel to the right side of your dog while they’re calmly sitting or standing.

2. Put the loop of the harness over your dog’s head. The harness label should sit on their left shoulder, and the metal ring for the leash should be at the center of their chest.

3. Reach underneath your dog’s belly and fasten the belly strap.

4. Adjust the harness to fit your dog. Make sure you cannot pull it over his head.

Some harnesses can be tricky to figure out, but they’re easy once you get the hang of them. The most important step is to make sure the harness is snug, but not too tight, so that your dog is safe and secure.

Related article: How to Get Your Dog Comfortable Wearing Clothes for Hot and Cold Weather
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